Say ‘Hello’ to Canvas

You should know by now that IU has selected Canvas tCanvas newso be the successor to Oncourse. Canvas will be IU’s official learning management system going forward. There will be a two-year transition period and Oncourse will be retired summer 2016. While many features are similar to Oncourse, there are some things that you will need to do differently to manage your classes in Canvas, but our first impressions as an office are that Canvas is very good!  This post will highlight just a few of the new features we like, but we strongly urge anyone interested in learning more about Canvas to stop by the Office of Instructional Consulting for one-on-one consultation with one of our friendly consultants. Additionally, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) will be offering introductory Canvas workshops throughout the summer and fall, and we highly recommend attending a session.

Beginning summer 2014, the registrar is auto-populating courses into both Canvas and Oncourse. In other words, you can use Canvas starting right now for your summer classes if you wish! However, it may be best to familiarize yourself with the tool before switching. We highly encourage all instructors to log into Canvas and get familiar with it. To log in, go to canvas.iu.edu and log in with your existing IU username and passphrase. Feel free to make changes, add tools, etc., as the site will not be visible to your students until you actually publish the site. This allows you to experiment, create practice sites, or even create new sites for research groups as a way to familiarize yourself with Canvas before teaching your first class. For a very brief video about some of the features of Canvas, from our IC QuickTips podcast, check out the following video:

As shown in the video, there are many similarities between Canvas and Oncourse.  Each course taught has its own ‘course’ page and each course can have a unique set of tools, similar to Oncourse. Syllabus, Assignments, Grades, Discussions (more on this in a bit), etc., are just some of the main tools that will likely be used for your classes and that are set up similarly to Oncourse. However, there are some new features you should know about in Canvas. One of the key features of Canvas is that there are several universal features available as part of the dashboard. Canvas BannerThe dashboard appears at the top of your screen and is the same for all courses. On the far right-hand side of the toolbar, you can access your profile information (for uploading a picture or bio information), an ‘Inbox’ where you can manage all incoming and outgoing messages sent to students, a ‘Settings’ tab for changing notification and other settings, a ‘Logout’ button, and finally a ‘Help’ tab. On the left-hand side, there is a series of drop-downs menu items.  The first is for your ‘Courses.’ The universal ‘Assignments,’ ‘Grades,’ and ‘Calendar’ menu items are among our favorite new features of Canvas.  From these drop-down menus, students and instructors can quickly see what assignments they have due for all of their classes, as well as a quick view of their grades.  For instructors, this will even help you track upcoming assignments that you will need to grade. Finally, the calendar can show all events from your many courses. As Canvas Callong as assignments are given a due date when they are created, they will automatically populate in the calendar. This is going to be very handy for students and instructors as well.

There are many more features that we know that instructors and students will enjoy, such as the ability to record video or audio directly to discussion forums, and integrating third-party apps such as GoogleDocs or YouTube videos directly into your class, and we would love for you to stop by so that we can help you with your individual needs. We are here all summer long and would love to help out to make sure that this transition to Canvas goes smoothly. If you need any assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at ic@indiana.edu or just stop by our office.

Justin Whiting

Office of Instructional Consulting

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